Espanyol's Quique Sanchez Flores rules out taking Stoke job

Stoke's search for a new manager will continue after former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores pledged his commitment to Espanyol.

Sanchez Flores emerged as Stoke's top target to succeed Mark Hughes after the Potters had to abandon their hopes of luring Gary Rowett away from Derby after he signed a new contract with the Championship outfit.

Reports said a Stoke delegation met Sanchez Flores in Barcelona on Wednesday and had been offered a five-year contract by the Premier League club.

However, speaking at a prematch news conference ahead of Sunday's LaLiga clash with Athletic Bilbao which was dominated by questions about his future, Sanchez Flores said he is happy at Espanyol, with whom he signed a three-year deal when he took charge in the summer of 2016.

The former Benfica and Atletico Madrid boss said in quotes reported by the Spanish press: "I am and will be coach of Espanyol.

"I belong to Espanyol, I have a contract and I'm honest with this club. I'm well, absolutely content with my situation, and I don't have to explain anything else."

He added: "I'm here and at no point have I said the opposite. It's the facts that matter and nothing else. The facts are that the players don't want to leave and the coach also continues."

Sanchez Flores, who guided to Watford to a 13th-placed Premier League finish and an FA Cup semi-final during his one season in English football in 2015-16, continued: "Football brings these types of situations and clubs ask questions and find out what they find out. It happens constantly with the players.

"But the important thing is that we think. We are happy, we have many things that make us feel like that.

"We like the connection [with the club], how they treat us, I like that Espanyol are growing. I'm in a great city and am involved in one of the best leagues in the world.

"Everything I need, I have here. I have nothing else to add, only that I have to focus on the next LaLiga match."

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has been another name in the frame to replace Hughes, who was sacked by Stoke last week following their humiliating FA Cup defeat at Coventry.

Stoke have also slipped into the relegation zone after a run of just two wins in 12 Premier League matches.

Eddie Niedzwiecki has been in temporary charge since Hughes' departure, taking training ahead of the Monday's league trip to Manchester United.